Cultural Revolutions


"Borking" is back. The eponymous activity first perpetrated on Judge Robert Bork when he was nominated for a seat on the United States Supreme Court is the practice of painting a proposed judicial appointee as consciously demonic, in order to excite particular interest groups to oppose his appointment. Some might oppose Borkees because of honest differences over judicial perspective, but this is certainly not required.

The Ur-Borker was Sen. Edward Kennedy, who, when President Ronald Reagan nominated Bork to the Court in 1987, intoned on the floor of the Senate that "Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists would be censored at the whim of government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is often the only protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy." As Bork reported in his biographical account of the incident, Senator Kennedy explained to the besieged nominee that his remarks were "nothing personal." It is difficult not to conclude that Kennedy knew his anti-Bork rhetoric was a total fabrication. We may be about to sec the same activity on an even greater scale.


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